This is a story about Nehemiah planting a church in the city of Jerusalem.
Mark suggests that a church planter should write in a journal. He has been strategically prepared (in education, commerce, etc) in the capital of Susa by God for the re-building of Jerusalem. The information was not new to Nehemiah, but it hit him in the new way.
In the same way, the need for church planting in the city is not new information. There is a need – dead church buildings, apostate seminaries, etc. How will this hit you?
Four or five months after the Lord broke his heart he risked being killed by sitting in front of the king. He is willing to lose his high position (he lives in the palace and has much power) so that he can re-build that which has been torn down.
You need to pray and fast and articulate your plan. You better be able to articulate your plan of action before you go and try to gather finances and people. It should be written down. Everything he does is bathed in prayer. There are times that you will have to be confident and bold enough to ask for policies to be changed (Nehemiah asked for a law to be changed).
He asked the king to vouch for him. When you go out, you need to be able to say that there is a group supporting.
You need to continually look for evidences of God’s grace to encourage and keep you from discouragement. Every time Nehemiah’s prayers are answered he gives glory to God for the provision.
There will be those who will oppose you. How do you deal with criticism? Remember that criticism these days is instant, constant, permanent, and global. You need to flee to the Gospel to get through. Criticism will happen. You must assume that this will happen. Set up strong accountability structures around you so that you can give an answer to anyone that will make a charge against you. If Satan can’t make you sin he will make you busy. If he can’t make you fall, he will make you preoccupied with myriad of things. You will emotionally die as people you love will turn against you.
You must learn to let your critics to be your coaches.
Verse 11: He surveys the city at night so that he will be anonymous. He is doing a contextual survey of his city.
He does not tell anyone because he is motivated by a pervading call in his life. If you do not have a sense of calling, then you will give up.
Chapter 4:9 – The trowel is for building and the sword is for defending what you build. Do you know how to defend your people (theologically, physically, legally)? The job of the pastor is to shepherd the flock of God. You must be cautious to not think that you should shepherd wolves that will break into your fold. You have to get rid of them. The heretics that will sneak into your church will rip your church apart – even more probable than the critics from the outside.
Chapter 7 – You need to surround yourself with men of great character. You need to have a priest, prophet, and king who will meet the needs of your congregation.
Chapter 8 – The word is preached and then priests are released into the congregation to care for those who have confessed and believed in the word preached. This is analogous to small group ministries.
13:8 – Underlying much urban ministry is anger. You need to understand godly-motivated anger so that you do not sin. When you see sin, you should be compelled by anger and compassion to be a change agent. Verse 23: There is no room for cowardice in leadership. You need to take action rather than debate about issues too long. You have to be careful the example that you set for your people.